Riverside Theatres in Western Sydney has built a solid reputation as a destination for performing arts experiences for primary and secondary schools with a program of offerings that connects with KLA's, curriculum outcomes and students with accessibility needs. In just ten years the program has developed from attendances of just a couple of hundred students annually to over 25,000 in 2014.
Why the growth and success? Location is important but schools travel from all corners of NSW to take up the offerings. The right programme is a good start - relevant and at the right time. Everything revolves around availability of school buses. Education is valued within the organisation the same as the subscription season as the students of today are the General Public of tomorrow. Making things as easy as possible for teachers and giving them the information they need to get an excursion application through Principals is also key. Detailed curriculum links are essential. If your team doesn't know the curriculum or understand how to read it - LEARN!
Fancy design is lovely but teachers are time poor. Clear, concise and quick to read information with space on marketing materials for teachers to scrawl their own notes helps. Choice of print stock - pens don't always work on gloss. Simple pricing and payments. Timely reminders - we've had schools completely forget they booked. Or a teacher has left. Make friends with the gate-keeper - admin staff organise payments. They also sort the mail and make education decisions they shouldn't - you want them to remember and like your organisation.
And if something isn't selling or getting much interest - ask. Call some of the teachers you already work with and get some feedback. They'll love that you thought of them and that you value their input.
The Riverside Theatres approach to communicate with schools
October – mail printed annual education brochures (1 for primary and 1 for secondary) to teachers. Multiple copies sent to each school. Follow up with EDM (electronic direct mail) to teachers. Website live with all details including booking forms. Social media push with links.
November – Begin processing bookings. Send out additional copies as requested by teachers.
December – Continue processing bookings.
January – Second mail out prepared for teachers return to school. Some schools can’t book before the new year. Some teachers move on. Some teachers forget.
Deposit – Required within 10 days of booking – invoice sent to school for payment
4 Weeks out – Final numbers confirmed and final payment due
Week out – Email reminder with performance date, time, duration
Day of event – Meet and Greet by dedicated staff. Informal chat getting feedback on process, programme and experience.